Article by Laura Newcomer
If you’re looking to raise some green, consider spending a day on the greens. A golf tournament fundraiser can be a great way to raise thousands of dollars for your organization in a single day.
People are drawn to golf tournaments because they provide an opportunity to enjoy a day of leisure in a social atmosphere. Tournaments also create a competitive environment that can drum up excitement and attract the interest of both amateurs and pros.
Attracting lots of participants (and their donations) hinges on planning an event that people want to attend. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you host a successful golf tournament fundraiser—even if you’ve never swung a golf club in your life.
8 Steps for Planning A Charity Golf Tournament
Step 1: Research
If this research finds that you’re in the clear, the next step is to determine your goals. These might center around raising a certain amount of money or recruiting a specific number of participants or sponsors. You’ll want to keep your goals in mind at every stage of the planning process.
After that, you’re ready to move on to the following steps.
Step 2: Designate Key Roles
Assigning roles at the start of the planning process will ensure your efforts remain organized and efficient.
If someone on your team already has a clear idea of how to organize a golf tournament fundraiser (because they’ve done so before), then go ahead and put them in charge. You’ll likely want to assign team members and volunteers to these areas.
- Corporate sponsorships and donations
- Prize committee
- Volunteer committee
- Day-of logistics and operations
If possible, it’s also helpful to recruit an experienced golfer (or several!) to serve as an advisor. That way, you can run ideas by them to get a read on whether those ideas will appeal to golfers of all stripes.
Step 3: Select a Tournament Location
If possible, try to secure a private club, because that might drum up interest from people keen to play at a location that might not be available to them the rest of the year. If someone in your organization’s network is a member at a private club, that might provide you with an in.
If private clubs aren’t an option, consider reaching out to a public course to see if they’d be willing to lend their facilities for a half day.
As you screen different courses, be sure to ask about the following.
- Have they hosted a golf tournament before? If so, they’ll probably be able to serve as advisers during your planning process.
- Would they like you to host the event in the morning or afternoon?
- Will they provide equipment rentals, carts, etc.?
- Will they provide refreshments?
- What kind of fees will they charge? (This is very important to consider in relation to your budget.)
- What’s the difficulty level of the course? Try to pick a course that’s accessible to a range of skill levels so players aren’t demoralized by a super tough course that’s beyond their abilities.
If you find you simply can’t secure a golf course, don’t despair. You could still create a golf tournament at a different locale by focusing on a putting or longest drive contest that doesn’t require 18 holes.
Step 4: Select Your Tournament Format
There are several format options for a golf tournament. The right one for your needs will depend on the location, time constraints, and sense of the participants and their preferences.
Also consider how you’ll kick off the tournament. Many tournaments use a shotgun start in which two or four players are assigned to each hole so all players can start at the same time.
Step 5: Solicit corporate sponsorships
Sponsorships are integral to the success of any golf tournament fundraiser, so start recruiting sponsors ASAP.
Plan to offer different levels of sponsorship so a range of local and regional businesses can participate. For example, you could offer opportunities to sponsor everything from a single hole to catering the refreshments or underwriting the entire event.
In return for sponsors’ contributions, make sure you offer them ample marketing opportunities. Clearly delineate what they’ll receive at each level of sponsorship, and then make a plan for how to follow through on those promises.
Step 6: Choose a registration software
Before you start recruiting signups for your event, you’ll need to figure out how participants will register.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for registration software that lets you create a personalized signup page and allows people to register (as individuals or as foursomes) online. You might also look for the following features.
- The ability to assign players to teams
- The ability to sell sponsorships
- The ability to assign starting holes and times
- The ability to sell products and/or entries into extra competitions, such as putting or longest drive contests
- Integration with promotional tools such as social media
- The ability to publish golf course maps and photos
Step 7: Market the event
To ensure your fundraiser generates enough signups, start marketing as early as possible. Plan to market via print and digital methods and try to drum up coverage in the local media.
As part of your marketing efforts, reach out to current donors, prospective major donors, and the broader community. Be sure to leverage any relationships to people who are active in the golf world and encourage them to do some recruiting on your behalf. Also involve your sponsors in marketing so they can help spread the word to their networks.
Step 8: Plan for post-event communications
- Thank the hosting golf course and its staff
- Send out thank yous to your corporate sponsors and follow through on any final commitments
- Thank all your volunteers
- Thank all participants and major donors
- Share photos of the event with participants
- Send out a survey to participants and sponsors so you can learn what worked well and what could be improved the next time you host a golf tournament fundraiser
Golf tournaments provide a fun, interactive, competitive environment that’s bound to attract participants.
What’s more, they provide ample sponsorship opportunities both on the course and at the awards banquet.
Pair lots of donating participants with lots of donating sponsors, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some serious fundraising!
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